The soap is out and he didn't replace it. How do you clean your body without soap?

I take what's left of the empty bottle and hold it under the faucet. Putting my thumb over the opening, I shake it and the bottle fills with transparent bubbles. Bubbles that will not clean me, but will pretend to clean me.

The doctor says to check yourself everyday. She says to do it in the shower, because you're already naked. Just take two fingers and press them down on yourself. Follow the curve of your breasts. Pray that you feel nothing. This part the doctor doesn't say.

And what are you feeling for? For a small pea, for, god forbid, a gumball. For, the worst word yet, a lump.

I cover myself with the half-assed suds. I put my two fingers together and then take them apart. Last month in the doctor's office, she did it for me. I don't worry when she does it. If she finds something, then she will have found it.

The steam of the shower keeps my skin warm, it makes my two fingers wrinkle. Like an old woman's. Like something I will never become if I do find a gumball resting beneath my skin. Here I would trade the heat of the shower, the warmth of my own two fingers for the icy chill of the doctor's. Here, I would rather not be alone.

The mirror is fogging and the congested air makes me light-headed. I want to get out. What came out of the soap bottle is already down the drain. I put my two fingers back together.

I press down on myself, only a few inches below my clavicle. I wait to feel it. To feel something. To feel anything. When nothing can be felt, I try again. I know I must have missed it. That it's lying deep beneath my skin. That it's hiding, waiting for me to find it.

After three rounds of checking myself, that's what the doctor calls it, I turn off the water. My skin still feels dirty, and I'm not sure if it's the soap or whatever I know is waiting to be found inside of me, just like they found in my mother and hers.

I wrap myself in a towel and hope that the day it is found, it will not be me that finds it. That I will not be naked, in a shower, angry about the empty bottle of soap.


CHELSEY GRASSO is a fiction writer splitting her time between Brooklyn and Boston. She's currently an MFA candidate at UMass Boston and has taught creative writing at a non-profit organization for children and teens in NYC.